Monday, August 31, 2020

Mayor de Blasio announces new police strategy, School opening, and COVIS-19,

 

 Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good morning, everybody. New York City continues on our road back. New York City, every day, taking step after step as we fight back this disease and we start to bring back our economy and our lives. And really, again, I'll say it every single time. The credit goes to all of you who have done such a remarkable job, doing what we needed to do to fight back this disease. And you're going to see, once again, with the day's indicators that it's working. So, a lot is happening now, a lot of work being done as we speak to get things ready for the start of school, good work being done by thousands and thousands of City employees to get everything ready for our kids. So much other important work going on. We see real progress – again, businesses bringing back more employees, museums opening up, our youth sports leagues opening up, so many things that show little by little we're taking those steps in the right direction.


 We won't send off the layoff notices today, but each day we will reassess, because we have to address our fiscal crisis. Again, no one wants to see a single layoff, but we have to address our fiscal crisis. So, I am hoping that this pause will lead to more progress in Albany because of the intense commitment of labor to getting this done. And I want to say, in the last few days, we've seen more and more signs of support for long-term borrowing. I want to thank our colleagues in the City Council. They're preparing to vote on a resolution in support of long-term borrowing in a matter of days. I want to thank Speaker Cory Johnson and UFT President Michael Mulgrew – they authored an op-ed recently in the Daily News, making the case for long-term borrowing. Many, many unions have been reaching out to Albany, telling them how important it is for New York City, but not just from New York City – the New York State Association of Counties has weighed in and made so clear that all over New York State there are localities that need help with long-term borrowing, given this horrible, horrible reality thrown at us by a pandemic no one ever expected. So, we'll pause now, and we'll do the work together to convince Albany that we need them. We need them to step up and pass long-term borrowing. That's what would avert the layoffs instantly and that's what we’ll be working on over these next few days.

 

Now, while we're doing this work to try and preserve our workforce, to try and protect the services that people need, try and keep our budget strong. There's so many other things we have to do at the same time, all in the midst of this incredibly challenging moment in history. So, what we do every day, of course, number-one concern every day is a health and safety of all New Yorkers. And when we focus on public safety, we do it in a way that regards both the importance of protecting people's lives and the importance of bringing police and community together. I've said literally since the time I ran for mayor that safety and fairness must walk hand in hand. 

 

So, today, where we are publishing our response to this pledge, that specific actions will be taken, and among those actions are new initiatives to bring the voices of the people of this city into our police academy as our recruits are being trained and as our officers are being retrained to literally bring neighborhood voices in as part of the training process; to have local efforts with community committees to develop new policies that will work for police and community alike, to have a deeper dialogue to change some of the ways we do things so that everyone can work better together; to use CompStat in new ways – CompStat has been the underpinning of our success now for a quarter-century in fighting back crime, but CompStat can be used in so many powerful ways to also measure how the NYPD is doing and its relationship with communities and how to improve that relationship. And crucially, we will be publishing a disciplinary matrix – and this is a big step forward for transparency, accountability – user-friendly data that will allow a clear understanding of how we are approaching discipline. We want discipline to be a very straightforward matter. We want it to be clear that when certain actions are taken and certain mistakes are made that there will be accountability. And it is so important for the public trust in our police – and that we've proven over the last seven years – when that trust grows, when that relationship grows, as it has in the city so many times, it allows us all to be safer. The matrix will be publicly available today at nyc.gov/nypdmatrix. There'll be a public comment period of one month and that information we get back from the public comment period will lead to the finalization of the policy. But the bottom line is this, the NYPD every day does an extraordinary job protecting the people in New York City. The NYPD has also shown its ability to change and reform, and more change reform is needed. The culture of policing needs continued improvement. That is something obvious, but we can simultaneously say that we appreciate that the vast majority of officers are in this work for a profound reason – they want to help people, they want to protect people. We need to make sure that the culture of policing continues to improve as well to be just as good as the motivation that led so many people into this crucial work. And these measures will help us take an important step forward.

 

I want to now turn to our Police Commissioner, who has, over his last seven years, continued to improve this department – whatever title he held, continued the effort to make the Department both better at protecting New Yorkers and better at listening to the people in the city and working with them and respecting their rights. Now, I‘ll turn to our Commissioner Dermot Shea.

 

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I have to give some credit to Jimmy O'Neill, the former police commissioner. If you think back a couple of years, when he empaneled and asked for outside experts to come in and take a look at our discipline process – the Blue Ribbon Panel, as it was called – when you look at the Obama pledge and many of the concerns and the Blue Ribbon Panel, there's a tremendous amount of overlap here. And the good news is that many of the items that are contained in the pledge we've been committed to doing for several years now. The Mayor mentioned the discipline matrix, which I can tell you has been worked on for approximately 12 months now. It went online today. I encourage everyone to go to the NYPD’s outward facing website, and you could read all about the matrix. And it's correct – there is a 30-day period where we're asking for the public's comments on this. And that's something that seems intuitive, but it hasn't always been done. But it's something we truly believe in, in terms of knowing who you work for – and we work for the public – and asking them for their comments. What can we do better? What do you think about particular aspects of the discipline matrix? And hearing their perspective – and hearing is the keyword there. We anticipate taking those results in, we've already consulted with experts in nearly every field. We’ve examined other matrixes that exist across the country in law enforcement's major departments. We feel good about the matrix. I can tell you that I've sat around a boardroom many times discussing this matrix, and there are always heated discussions about different things. It's very detailed, but I am very curious how the public comment session will be, and we expect it to be finalized by this coming January.

 

None of this is new to what we're trying to do. If you look at our NYPD outward facing website, again, you'll see a new page that's gone up probably the last month, maybe three weeks, explaining what we do. I think that's my key takeaway, whether it's the Obama pledge, whether it's the Blue Ribbon Panel. One of the key points to Blue Ribbon Panel said was the NYPD has a strong discipline system. It's not perfect, but it's strong, and we do a lot of things well. What we did not do well was tell others what we do, and that transparency aspect is behind a lot of what we're doing. And about, as I said, three weeks ago, we started putting more and more information up on that outward facing page, telling people about our discipline process, telling people and giving them examples of how seriously we treat discipline in many cases. And we think that that will, as the Mayor alluded to, continue to build trust. And trust at this point is critical.

 

Mayor: Thank you very much, Commissioner. And Commissioner, I appreciate the fact that it has been a long and ongoing effort to continue always looking for the next reform that's needed, the next way of bringing police and community together. And I think the last point the Commissioner made is crucial – it's important to show the work that's going on every day. That’s something we want to do more and more effectively, because everyone understands the way forward for the city is with police and community working hand in hand. And I think the items in the Obama pledge will help us to take that big step forward for the city.

 

Now, let me turn you to another crucial matter – obviously, less than two weeks until the beginning of school. So much work going on – we've talked about all of the work that's happened since June by our custodial engineers in the schools, the School Construction Authority, Division of School Facilities at DOE – so many thousands of people working together to get our schools ready, June, July, August – now, as we get ready for September. So, to-date 1,321 school buildings have been inspected. And that is about 88 percent of the buildings that needed an inspection. We will be continuing those inspections today and tomorrow, and then we will have gotten through the entire school system. We'll be publishing the results of the inspections on a rolling basis to update parents and the community on where each school stands. So far, what we're seeing is overwhelmingly, because of the hard work that's been happening over the last three months, that schools are ready. But we'll be very clear if there's any specific school with ongoing work that needs to be done, any even individual classroom that has work that needs to be done. And we'll be publishing that shortly.

 

Now, we're also moving ahead in some other key areas. Last week, we talked about the outdoor learning plans. The response from principals was outstanding. So many of them had ideas ready to go. And I want to make really clear that principals at any point can put in an outdoor learning plan. We said to them, any plan that was put in last week will get an answer by this week, but they are invited to continue to put in plans at any point. So far, 247 schools have had their outdoor learning plans approved. And again, that will be on a rolling basis. And another ongoing effort that started in the spring, but it will continue, is to make sure that all children who need devices to participate in the remote learning that they'll be involved in, whether it's in a blended learning format or all remote format, we want to make sure that every child that needs technology gets it, who needs internet service gets it. So far, in the New York City public schools, 324,000 iPads have been distributed for free to kids who need them. And that distribution will continue as there are needs. We want to make sure our children get what they need and get it quickly.

 

So, we continue this work every day with the folks working in the buildings, with our administrators, with our educators, with our custodial teams, with our building staff, the food service staff, you name it, everyone's in this together and we are working constantly with the unions that represent the people that do the work. We're all working to resolve issues and get ready for what will be one of the most pivotal school years – I think, the most pivotal school year in the history of New York City, and we have to get it right for everyone.

 

Let's talk about our indicators. Number one, daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19, threshold is 200 patients. Today's report, 47 patients – that's one of the lowest we've seen in months. And the positivity rate among those patients, 12.5 percent. Indicator number two, new reported cases on a seven-day average, that threshold 550 cases. Today's report, 222. And number three, percentage of people testing citywide positive for COVID-19, threshold five percent. Today's report, again, one of our lowest, 0.59 percent. Again, outstanding work by New Yorkers now as we come off the summer and move into the fall, double down on those efforts to stay safe because they are clearly working. And we can get safer – I want to drive that infection rate down much further, because we'll be able to do more and more and open up more and more as we do that. So, it's not just stay the course, it's double down. Let's go farther at making this city safe.

 

Governor Cuomo Announces COVID-19 Hospitalizations, ICU Patients and Deaths Drop to New Lows

 

Hospitalizations Drop to 418—New Low Since March 16

ICU Patients Drop to 109—New Low Since March 15

1 COVID-19 Death in New York State Yesterday—New Low; No Deaths Reported in NYC

0.99 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive; 24 Straight Days with Infection Rate Below 1 Percent

SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 1,110 Establishments; Observes 5 Establishments Not in Compliance

Confirms 656 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 434,756; New Cases in 41 Counties

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients have dropped to new lows. Hospitalizations dropped to 418, a new low since March 16, and the number of patients in ICUs dropped to 109, a new low since March 15. Yesterday, one person was reported to have died from COVID-19 in New York State, which is the lowest single-day death toll. No deaths were reported in New York City. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

"Yesterday we had the lowest number hospitalized and the lowest number in the ICU since this crisis began. One New Yorker passed away and that New Yorker's family is in our thoughts and prayers, but we should pause a moment on that fact. There was a time when we were going through this crisis when we literally had hundreds of people dying every day," Governor Cuomo said. "And I asked New Yorkers to understand the facts and to act responsibly and I said that what the future holds is determined by what New Yorkers do. Together we did flatten the curve and we saved lives."

Yesterday, the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force visited 1,110 establishments in New York City and Long Island and observed 5 establishments that were not in compliance with state requirements. A county breakdown of yesterday's observed violations is below: 

  • Queens - 5

Today's data is summarized briefly below: 

  • Patient Hospitalization - 418 (-11)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 29
  • Hospital Counties - 32
  • Number ICU - 109 (-3)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 51 (+4)
  • Total Discharges - 75,100 (+38)
  • Deaths - 1
  • Total Deaths - 25,328

Governor Cuomo and Labor Leaders Call on Congress to Provide $59 Billion to Address Catastrophic Budget Shortfalls Resulting from COVID-19 Pandemic

 

New York State and New York City Require Lifesaving Injection of Federal Funding to Avoid Setbacks to Vital Infrastructure Projects that Provide Employment for Thousands of Workers

Call on Congress to Repeal SALT

Cuomo, Labor Leaders: "Even if state and local governments cut expenses, increase taxes, and reduced services, the revenue shortfall would still be in the billions of dollars. Moreover, forcing state and local governments to take such actions would only further the pain and extend the period of time for the nation's economy to recover." 

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and prominent New York labor leaders today called on Congress to provide $59 billion to address catastrophic budget shortfalls that impact the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of workers in the state. The governor and labor leaders sent a letter to federal representatives enumerating the critical infrastructure projects that would be impacted without federal funding and the hospitals, schools and institutions that would be supported by it. New York State, New York City and other local governments face huge shortfalls due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The governor and labor leaders also called on Congress to repeal the tax change that eliminated the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT).

New York State requires $30 billion during the current fiscal year and next to avoid massive disruption. New York City requires $9 billion, local governments outside of New York City require $4.5 billion, the MTA requires $12 billion, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requires $3 billion. Federal funding would support:

  • Rebuilding JFK and LaGuardia Airports, which employ thousands of private sector workers
  • The MTA's $51 billion capital plan
  • East Side Access and new Penn Station

The full letter is available below: 

Dear Federal Representative:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, New York State is in an impossible financial situation.

State and local governments are facing an approximate $59 billion shortfall this year and next. New York City, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey individually all face unmanageable shortfalls. Likewise, private sector businesses have seen lost revenue and tens of thousands of jobs lost. 

There is no combination of state efforts that will address this financial crisis without federal assistance. Even if state and local governments cut expenses, increase taxes, and reduced services, the revenue shortfall would still be in the billions of dollars. Moreover, forcing state and local governments to take such actions would only further the pain and extend the period of time for the nation's economy to recover. Virtually all economists agree that forcing state and local governments to lay off employees and reduce services will negatively impact the national recovery. We saw that with the last fiscal crisis in 2007-2009, and we know that it will play out again.

Much damage has been done by this federal administration - policies like the SALT tax "reform" that increased taxes on New Yorkers, and discriminatory policies that tout "savings" while further marginalizing vulnerable New Yorkers. The federal administration has already achieved many of its political priorities in prior legislation passed in response to COVID. We cannot allow another piece of legislation to pass without protecting New Yorkers.

New York State requires $30 billion in funding in the current fiscal year and next to avoid massive disruption. Likewise, New York City requires $9 billion, local governments outside of New York City require $4.5 billion, the MTA $12 billion and the Port Authority $3 billion. The Port Authority's projects rebuilding LaGuardia and JFK Airports are currently employing thousands of private sector construction workers. The MTA's $51 billion capital plan will be on hold, and East Side Access and a revitalized Penn Station will be lost, maybe forever. We must not lose these jobs and these projects - they are necessary to cementing New York's economic future. Hospitals, schools and public employees have done heroic work during Covid and must now be protected, especially as we reopen schools and anticipate additional health challenges in the Fall.  The legislation must also repeal the damaging and offensive SALT tax "reform," which cost the people of the State of New York as much as an additional $15 billion each year.

DEC ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF THREE SHELLFISHING AREAS

 

Three North Shore Areas to be Closed Starting Sept. 4; Areas Expected to Reopen Sept. 10

  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the temporary closure of three shellfishing areas on the north shore of Long Island during the upcoming Labor Day holiday period. These closures are imposed during busy holidays to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. Boaters are reminded to use pump-out facilities to help protect these waters. When boating, DEC encourages New Yorkers to get outside safely, locally, and responsibly during the State’s response to COVID-19, and to avoid busy waters.

“DEC closes shellfishing in these waters annually during the Labor Day holiday due to the heavy increase in recreational activities,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Responsible boating plays a major role in protecting our local waterways and DEC continues to urge boaters to be aware of the no-discharge zones in New York’s coastal waters and to use pump-out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health.”

Since 1995, DEC has designated these areas as temporarily uncertified for the harvest of shellfish during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. During peak holiday periods, discharges from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering the shellfish unsafe for human consumption.

DEC will designate the following areas, all on the north shore of Long Island, as closed to the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Friday, Sept. 4, and continuing through Wednesday, Sept. 9:

445 acres in a section of Oyster Bay Harbor, town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County

50 acres in the area known as the Sand Hole, town of Huntington, Suffolk County

347 acres in northern Port Jefferson Harbor, town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County

Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in these areas on Thursday, Sept. 10. If poor weather causes fewer boaters to visit these areas, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas earlier to harvesting. A recorded message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. The recorded message also advises harvesters when such areas have reopened. Information, including maps showing the affected areas, is available on DEC’s website.

New York State is encouraging boaters to engage in responsible recreation during the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19. The particular practice of “rafting” where multiple vessels tie up with each other should be avoided since this can increase the chance of disease transmission. DEC recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. For more information about engaging in responsible recreation this summer, visit DEC's website.

Boaters should be aware that Oyster Bay Harbor, the Sand Hole, and Port Jefferson Harbor are designated as no-discharge zones in their entirety. A no-discharge zone is a designated body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in these areas should utilize the following pump-out facilities:

Oyster Bay Harbor (West Harbor, town of Oyster Bay): One pump-out boat is operated by the town of Oyster Bay at no cost to boaters. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Contact the pump-out boat via marine radio VHF channel 9 or by cell phone at (516) 375-9864. In addition, the town provides two pump-out stations on floats near the Oyster Bay Marine Center and Waterfront Park and a land-based pump-out in the town marina at Theodore Roosevelt Park.

The Sand Hole (Lloyd Neck, town of Huntington): Although there are no facilities within the Sand Hole, boaters should contact Town of Oyster Bay pump-out boat as noted above. There also is a land-based pump-out facility at Powle’s Marine Center in Cold Spring Harbor. In addition, boaters traveling from town of Huntington waters can request the services of the town’s pump-out boat (no fee) by calling on marine radio VHF channel 9. There are also a number of land based pump-out facilities at marinas in Northport Harbor and Huntington Harbor.

Port Jefferson Harbor (town of Brookhaven): The town of Brookhaven operates a pump-out boat (no fee) in Port Jefferson Harbor. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boaters may contact the town’s pump-out boat via marine radio VHF channel 73. In addition, the town provides a pump out station on its transient dock, east of the boat launch ramp, west of the charter fishing vessels.

full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found on DEC’s website.

Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. - PUBLIC HOUSING LEADERS IN NYC, WHO SUPPORTED TRUMP SAY THERE BEEN DECEIVED, WERE THEY?

 What You Should Know

By Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz
District 18, Bronx County

  You should know that during the Republican National Convention, held Monday August 24 to Thursday August 27 of this year, leaders representing four (4) different New York City Public Housing Developments came out in defense of President Donald Trump.
 
It is important for you to know that these four (4) NYCHA public housing leaders in New York City are all Democrats, one is African American, and three are Hispanic. All four (4) appeared praising the work and contributions of President Donald Trump’s administration. While at the same time, these four (4) criticized New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Democratic Party for the disastrous conditions in NYC’s public housing.
  
Carmen Quiñones, Tenant Leader of “Frederick Douglas Houses” in Harlem, Claudia Perez, Tenant Association President at “Washington Houses,” Manuel Martinez, head of the resident’s association at South Jamaica Houses” and Ms. Judy Smith, a NYCHA resident
 
You should also know that when the Republican National Convention ended, much criticism and pressure began on these four (4) people for having recorded the video in favor of President Trump. Carmen Quiñones, Claudia Perez, and Manuel Martinez later retracted and released statements, where they claimed, that they were used and that they never willfully endorsed President Trump.
 
One of them, the African-American, Judy Smith, did not retract her statements. She stood firm, testifying that she did know what she was doing and that her support for President Donald Trump remained firm.
 
My advice to the three Hispanic leaders who, according to them, “were deceived” should sit down and watch the video again (see link below)They all appear very comfortable and sure of their statements in favor of President Trump. They don't seem as if they were coerced, nervous or unsure of their statements. It is disheartening to believe that at this stage our community would have leaders that are so easily coerced and fooled as if they were naïve little children.  It’s as if they have no control over what they say, and then have to retract and blame others later.   This my dear readers is shameful.
 
 
I am Councilman Rev. Rubén Díaz, and This is What You Should Know.

AG James and Coalition of Elected Officials Demand Delay, Reforms to, and Removal of Over 4,700 Homes from Tax Lien Sale to Protect New York Homeowners

 

  New York Attorney General Letitia James and a group of 57 elected officials urged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay the city’s annual tax and water lien sale in order to protect homeowners as the COVID-19 crisis continues. In a letter to Mayor de Blasio, Attorney General James and other elected officials called for the removal of more than 4,700 Class 1 Properties, or residential buildings with three or fewer units, from the tax lien sale scheduled for September 4, 2020. As New Yorkers are still facing significant financial burdens due to the pandemic, including these homes in the tax lien sale will only exacerbate the economic crisis and result in homeowners — mostly in communities of color — potentially losing their homes during this time.

“Now is the time to support hardworking homeowners, not saddle them with undue financial burden,” said Attorney General James. “The tax lien sale has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and will only exacerbate the financial hardships so many are already facing in the middle of a pandemic. It’s incumbent on government to protect the people — not kick them when they’re already down — and I urge Mayor de Blasio to take action immediately.”

Every year, the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) holds a tax lien sale, whereby the tax liens on properties for unpaid property taxes and water bills are sold off in an auction. The terms imposed by the tax lien sale on New Yorkers are dramatic: mandatory five percent surcharges, legal fees, and a nine or 18 percent interest rate that compounds daily. These additional fees can quickly turn a relatively small tax lien into an overwhelming financial burden, eventually pushing homeowners into foreclosure.

The buildings included in the sale every year are disproportionately located in communities of color. In fact, according to the Coalition for Affordable Homes, the city is six times more likely to sell a lien on a property in a majority Black neighborhood and two times more likely to sell a lien on a property in a majority Hispanic neighborhood than in a majority white neighborhood.

The city generally conducts vigorous outreach to property owners to ensure residents in debt to the city are aware that they are in jeopardy of entering the lien sale process and knowledgeable about alternative payment plans. This year, however, because of the severe constraints that COVID-19 has placed on outreach efforts, much of this work was not done at nearly the same levels as in years past. In addition, Mayor de Blasio only just announced on August 23, 2020 that the sale would in fact occur on September 4, 2020, giving New Yorkers only a fraction of the time to plan. As a result, many vulnerable families and individuals may not have any information about how to remove their homes from the sale or even be aware that their property is included in the sale.

Attorney General James has long advocated for reforms to the lien sale program to address some of its gravest injustices and renews those calls today, including:

  • Eliminating water and sewer lien sales for low and middle-income occupants of one-to-three family homes (there are currently 2,639 Class 1 properties on the list that have water debt only);
  • Creating a “Homeowner Advocate” position who would help homeowners navigate different agencies involved in the tax lien sale (no such position currently exists); and
  • Excluding nonprofits and houses of worship from both the water and the property tax lien sale (there are currently 49 non-profit properties on the list, all resulting from water debt).

The letter was signed by a coalition of 57 elected officials, representing New Yorkers at the federal, state, and city level.

The manes are not listed, because a few are seeking reelection or higher office.

Kicking Off Labor Rights Week, Comptroller Stringer Announces $2 Million in Stolen Prevailing Wages Returned to Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic AUGUST 31, 2020

 

Launches “Know your Rights" virtual workshops in collaboration with workers’ rights advocates, community organization and consulates during Labor Rights Week (August 31 - Sept 4)

Bureau of Labor Law recoups unpaid wages with interest for workers regardless of their immigration status, whether or not they still live in New York City

   New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer kicked off Labor Rights Week by announcing that nearly $2 million in stolen prevailing wages has been returned to more than 100 workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comptroller Stringer also launched a series of “Know Your Rights” virtual events in collaboration with labor rights groups, community organizations, the Consulate of Mexico and Latin American Consulates Coalition. All events commence on August 31 and the series will culminate on September 4, 2020.

The Comptroller’s Bureau of Labor Law enforces prevailing wage and benefit rates for construction and building service workers employed by contractors on City public work projects. When companies on these public contracts fail to pay the proper wages and benefits, the Comptroller enforces the law to recover the money owed to workers and ensures that they receive the money through outreach. Amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Comptroller’s office launched a phone banking campaign in April to return unclaimed wages to workers cheated out of pay. Since March, the Comptroller’s Office has returned nearly $2 million to more than 100 workers.

“I always say that in my office, every week is Labor Rights Week. I believe that workers are their own best advocates when they know their rights, which is why community-based partnerships are so important,” said Comptroller Stringer. “My office is as committed to the enforcement of prevailing wages as we are in connecting workers with the pay they are rightfully owed. The economic fallout of COVID-19 has made this work more important than ever, and I am proud that our redoubled efforts have brought justice to more than 100 workers during these past few challenging months.”

The Mexican Consulate in New York hosts Labor Rights Week every year just before Labor Day. This year’s Labor Rights Week will be a virtual event and will take place from August 31 through September 4, 2020. An MOU is signed every two years in commitment to the partnership between the Comptroller’s office and the Mexican Consulate to promote labor rights and advocate for workers. The Mexican Consulate has similar MOUs with New York State and the United States Departments of Labor. For the Comptroller’s office, the object of the MOU is to ensure workers are aware of their rights to prevailing wages on City-funded public work sites.

During Labor Rights Week the Comptroller’s Bureau of Labor Law will participate in the “Know Your Rights” virtual workshops below:

  • August 31, 11:00 AM – Mexican Consulate Labor Rights Week “Kickoff” event via Zoom and Facebook Live
  • September 1, 5:00 PM – St. Jerome HANDS Community Center in the Bronx via Zoom
  • September 2, 5:30 PM – Mixteca Organization via Zoom
  • September 3, 6:00 PM – NYC Comptroller’s office via Zoom and Facebook Live
  • September 4, 6:00 PM – La Colmena, Staten Island via Zoom and Facebook Live
  • September 4, 11:00 AM – Mexican Consulate & CLACNY via Zoom and Facebook Live

Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU, said: “As Comptroller, Scott Stringer has consistently stood up for the rights of workers. We strongly commend  the Comptroller’s Bureau of Labor Law for overcoming challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic to restore to more than 100 workers $2 million in stolen wages they should have received under prevailing wage, especially at a time when so many families are hurting. We strongly support ongoing efforts by his office to put lost wages back in the hands of families that need them., especially at this time.”

Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “With immigrants representing more than half of our front line workers and thousands ineligible for relief, it is vital that workers receive every cent owed them. Even during the best of times, rampant wage theft remains a reality for all too many hard-working New Yorkers. We applaud the Comptroller’s efforts through the covid-19 pandemic recouping $2 million in stolen prevailing wages for more than 100 hundred workers regardless of their immigration status and ensuring all workers get the compensation they deserve for their labor.”

Jennifer Sun, Co-Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality, said: “We at AAFE would like to thank Comptroller Stringer for ensuring that workers receive the wages they are owed, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, when so many low-income families are struggling financially. Through good economic times and bad, employers must meet their obligations to the hard working men and women who make our city run day in and day out, often at their own peril. AAFE is happy to partner with the Comptroller’s Office during Labor Rights Week to make sure all of our communities know about their labor rights.”

Maf Misbah Uddin, Founder and President of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor, said: “The Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) is proud to continue it’s partnership with our people’s Comptroller Scott Stringer, all labor-based groups, and our concerned citizens to fight for economic justice for workers. Wage theft is a serious crime and we all must do everything in our power to protect the workers in getting their fair share of pay that they earned regardless of their immigration status. We commend the Comptroller’s office for overcoming all challenges through the pandemic and bringing justice to more than 100 workers during this public health crisis.”

Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change, said: “Employers across the City continue to cheat workers out of their hard-earned wages. We applaud Comptroller Stringer for standing up and helping workers who are owed thousands of dollars in compensation. We will continue to work hand in hand with the Comptroller to combat wage theft across the city,” said

Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, said: “Workers, who have always been vulnerable, are hurting more than ever, and the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has barely begun. It is even more critical in this economic climate that contractors who take public dollars do right by their workers and pay their workers fairly. We thank Comptroller Stringer for championing workers, especially during these tentative economic times, and for holding publicly funded contractors accountable and commend his bureau of labor law for their tirelessly efforts that lead to returning $2 millions in prevailing wages to more than 100 workers through the pandemic. We are happy that workers have an opportunity to claim their stolen wages and we will work with our pan-Asian member agencies to spread the word to the Asian community.”

Since 2014, Comptroller Stringer’s office has assessed more than $30 million in prevailing wage violations and paid over $15 million to employees who were cheated out of their wages. It has also debarred 60 contractors who took advantage of workers – setting an office record.

MAYOR DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES PLAN TO FULFILL THE OBAMA FOUNDATION PLEDGE TO REFORM POLICING

 

 Mayor de Blasio today announced New York City’s plan to fulfill The Obama Foundation pledge to address use of force in policing. The Mayor took the pledge in June of this year, which included a commitment to review police use of force policies, engage communities by including a diverse range of input, report the findings of the review, and reform police use of force policies. The Mayor’s plan focuses primarily on areas that have a critical impact on use of force: community, transparency and accountability. 

“We’ve shown we can change this city these past nearly seven years. Now we are showing it again,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Reform goes beyond just changing policies. It means improving transparency, increasing accountability, and ensuring community engagement is centered in our approach.”

 

"Over the past nearly seven years, our NYPD officers have worked tirelessly to carry out a series of cutting edge reforms, all geared toward increasing fairness, impartiality and accountability in policing and to deepen our ties with those we serve in every New York City neighborhood. Our work to deepen these critical efforts across all aspects of the NYPD continues," said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

 

The plan to fulfill The Obama Foundation pledge builds off major NYPD reforms already undertaken throughout the Mayor’s tenure, including: 

 

·         Distributing body-worn-cameras to all officers

·         Overhauling use-of-force policies, publishing an annual comprehensive report, and creating a Force Investigation Division

·         Instituting new implicit bias, de-escalation and crisis intervention team training

·    Publishing annual data on discipline, increasing penalties and requiring counseling for officers involved in DWI incidents, domestic violence incidents, and requiring mandatory dismissal for repeat offenders

·         Publishing the trial calendar on the NYPD website

·      Instituting Precision Policing, which focuses enforcement on the relative few that drive crime in this city, while allowing the NYPD to continue reducing its enforcement footprint by tens of thousands of arrests and summonses each year and at the same time driving crime to historic lows

 

Key plan elements: 

 

·       Bring the community in: incorporate community members into the instruction of classes and panel discussions at the Police Academy

·     Involve the community in developing key policies and strategy: establish formal committees of community members to assist in developing crime prevention, policing strategies, and NYPD policies

·       Public input: involve the public in developing and evaluating key policies and initiatives by inviting public comment

·     Community feedback: gather and incorporate community feedback through regular surveys 

·      Expanded use of CompStat: introduce a broader range of indicators in CompStat, such as measuring the relationship with the community

·   Diversity in the Department: continue to build and support a more diverse workforce by understanding barriers through robust engagement, and creating recommendations to address them

·         Operationalizing transparency: add interactive dashboards and other data visualizations of metrics, such as information about Department diversity and Department composition by race, gender, age, and other demographic information

·       Accountability: release an NYPD disciplinary matrix, which will promote fairness, transparency and accountability for officers and promote trust with the public

 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Herbalife Agrees To Pay $123 Million To Resolve Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Case

 

  Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”), and Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced today the filing of criminal charges against HERBALIFE NUTRITION, LTD. (“HERBALIFE”), a multinational corporation headquartered in Los Angeles, for conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  The charges arise out of a decade-long scheme by HERBALIFE to falsify books and records and provide corrupt payments and benefits to Chinese government officials for the purpose of obtaining, retaining, and increasing HERBALIFE’s business in China.  In connection with the filed charges, SDNY and DOJ entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) with HERBALIFE.  Pursuant to the DPA, HERBALIFE admitted to participating in the charged conspiracy and will pay a criminal fine of $55,743,093.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As admitted in the deferred prosecution agreement entered into today, Herbalife approved the extensive and systematic corrupt payments to Chinese government officials over a 10-year period to promote and expand Herbalife’s business in China.  Moreover, in an effort to conceal this widespread corruption scheme, Herbalife maintained false accounting records to mischaracterize these improper payments as permissible business expenses.  In addition to admitting its criminal conduct, Herbalife has agreed to pay combined penalties of more than $123 million.  This case signifies this Office’s commitment to ensuring that companies operating in the U.S. do not gain an unfair advantage through corruption and illegal bribes of foreign officials.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt said:  “By engaging in a decade-long scheme to falsify its books and records to conceal corrupt and other improper expenditures, Herbalife misrepresented the information available to investors.  Today’s resolution reflects the department’s ongoing commitment to combating corruption and ensuring that investors can trust the accuracy of the financial statements of publicly traded companies.”

According to the allegations contained in the criminal Information, which was filed today in Manhattan federal court, the statement of facts set forth in the DPA, and other publicly available information:

HERBALIFE conducts business operations in China through a group of wholly owned subsidiaries based in China (collectively, “Herbalife China”).  By 2016, Herbalife China was responsible for approximately $860 million, or approximately 20 percent, of HERBALIFE’s worldwide annual net sales, which exceeded $4 billion.  In China, to engage in direct selling – selling a company’s products through independent sales representatives – Chinese law required a company to obtain a direct selling license from national authorities as well as local authorities for each province in which a company intended to engage in direct selling.  From March 2007 through 2016, Herbalife China obtained licenses to engage in direct sales in 28 provinces. 

Yanliang Li, a/k/a “Jerry Li,” was the director of sales and/or sales vice president at Herbalife China from in or about 2004 through in or about December 2007, and then the managing director of Herbalife China from in or about December 2007 through in or about April 2017.  From in or about December 2012 through in or about February 2017, Li also held the title of senior vice president at HERBALIFE.  Hongwei Yang, a/k/a “Mary Yang,” was a high-level executive at Herbalife China and the head of external affairs from in or about 2006 through in or about April 2017.

Beginning in or about at least 2007 through in or about 2016, HERBALIFE, through Li, Yang, and others, engaged in a scheme to falsify books and records and provide corrupt payments and benefits to Chinese government officials, including officials of Chinese government agencies and a state-owned media outlet, for the purpose of obtaining, retaining, and increasing HERBALIFE’s business in China by, among other things, (1) obtaining and retaining certain of Herbalife China’s direct selling licenses; (2) improperly influencing certain Chinese governmental investigations into Herbalife China’s compliance with Chinese laws applicable to its business; and (3) improperly influencing certain Chinese state-owned and state-controlled media for the purpose of removing negative media reports about Herbalife China.

During the course of the scheme, in order to conceal these improper payments and benefits, HERBALIFE, through Li, Yang, and others, knowingly and willfully conspired and agreed with others to maintain false accounting records that did not accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of HERBALIFE’s assets, by, among other things, falsely recording certain improper payments and benefits as “travel and entertainment expenses” and maintaining false Sarbanes Oxley sub-certification letters in HERBALIFE’s books, records, and accounts. 

In a related matter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), HERBALIFE agreed to pay to the SEC disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling approximately $67,313,497.

In November 2019, the Government unsealed related criminal charges against Li and Yang, both of whom remain at large.  See United States v. Li and Yang, 19 Cr. 760 (VSB).

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division, and also thanked the SEC for its assistance and cooperation in this investigation. .

Governor Cuomo Announces New Record High Number of COVID-19 Tests Reported to New York State

 

100,022 Test Results Reported to New York State Yesterday

Hospitalizations Drop to 429—New Low Since March 16

Intubations Drop to 47—New Low Since March 14

0.69 Percent of Yesterday's COVID-19 Tests were Positive; 23 Straight Days with Infection Rate Below 1 Percent

Rapid Testing Ongoing in Western New York; Call 833-NYSTRNG to Make an Appointment

8 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

SLA and State Police Task Force Visits 1,734 Establishments; Observes 11 Establishments Not in Compliance

Confirms 698 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 434,100; New Cases in 44 Counties

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 100,022 test results were reported to New York State yesterday—a new record high. Hospitalizations dropped to 429, a new low since March 16, and intubations dropped to 47, a new low since March 14. New York State's infection rate has been below 1 percent for 23 straight days. The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov

"Yesterday's highest-ever number of tests and infection rate of 0.69 percent are great news, especially when you consider what's going on around the country and around the world," Governor Cuomo said. "The state is doing extraordinarily well, and again, kudos to all New Yorkers because there's no mystery as to how this happens. It's a social action and it's the community of the people of the State of New York acting out of mutuality and concern for one another. Everyone should continue to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands, and local governments should continue to enforce state guidance so we can get through this together."

Governor Cuomo also reminded Western New York residents that ongoing rapid testing is being conducted at eight sites in the region. Residents can call 833-NYSTRNG to make an appointment. On August 27, the governor deployed a testing SWAT team to Western New York to address the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region. He also announced the eight sites, which can be found here: 

Delavan-Grider Community Center 

877 E. Delavan Ave. 

Buffalo, NY 14215 

True Bethel Baptist Church 

907 E. Ferry St. 

Buffalo, NY 14211 

Northwest Buffalo Community Center 

155 Lawn Ave. 

Buffalo, NY 14207 

Dunkirk Fire Murphy Training Grounds 

665 Brigham Road 

Dunkirk, NY 14048 

SUNY ECC North 

6205 Main St. 

Williamsville, NY 14221 

Union Fire Company 

1845 Union Road 

West Seneca, NY 14224 

John A. Duke Senior Center 

1201 Hyde Park Blvd. 

Niagara Falls, NY 14301 

YWCA of the Niagara Frontier 

32 Cottage St. 

Lockport, NY 14094

Yesterday, the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force visited 1,734 establishments in New York City and Long Island and observed 11 establishments that were not in compliance with state requirements. A county breakdown of yesterday's observed violations is below:

  • Manhattan - 1 
  • Queens - 4 
  • Suffolk - 6

Today's data is summarized briefly below: 

  • Patient Hospitalization - 429 (-29)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 51 
  • Hospital Counties - 30
  • Number ICU - 112 (-4)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 47 (-1)
  • Total Discharges - 75,062 (+72)
  • Deaths - 8
  • Total Deaths - 25,327